Summer has come early to Pune and the heat is unbearable. We are always looking for natural ways to cool the body and what could be more refreshing than a bunch of fresh mint? Spending the least possible time in the kitchen is desirable. Even the not so fresh variety of paneer available with the small baniya (grocer) shop is much fresher than the ‘refrigerated a zillion years’ brands that we are forced to use in the US. I had come across a dish called pudina paneer tikka at a neighbourhood restaurant. I liked the concept but the dish itself had turned out to be over spiced and salty. A simple sautee of onions and peppers and paneer cubes in a mint and yogurt sauce seemed just perfect.
I wanted the mint to shine and use a bare minimum of other spices. Pudine Ki Paneer Kadai was born out of laziness and the need to spend the minimum time near a hot stove. The recipe is as follows -
200 g fresh paneer cubed
2 small onions
1 large green bell pepper
1 small clove garlic
1/2 tsp fresh ginger
1/2 tsp cayenner pepper
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp sour yogurt
1 small bunch fresh mint
1 tbsp lemon juice optional
1) Cube the paneer according to desired shape/size
2) Dice the onions and pepper similar to the paneer. The pieces should be somewhat large so that they retain shape and texture
3)Grind the mint leaves, garlic, ginger and lemon juice to a fine paste
4) Add the yogurt and stir to make a smooth batter or mixture
5) Add paneer cubes to the above mixture and toss lightly till all the pieces are coated evenly. This can be done in advance and refrigerated. A minimum of 30 mins of mariantion is required.
6)Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok or kadai. You can also use a cooking spray if you are using a good non stick vessel
7)AFter the oil heats, Add the onions and sautee them lightly on a high flame. The onions should be charred slightly if desired. Remove the onions while they are still
curnchy and have a slight bite to them.
8) Add the diced pepper or capsicum to the wok and repeat above process. Remove the peppers while still crunchy.
9)Now add the paneer/yogurt/mint mixture to the wok and stir lightly. The yogurt will evaporate soon. You can fry this until it is dry enough for your taste. I recommend a thick coating of the masala paste. At this point, the paneer will be infused with the tang of the yogurt, and the mint will be most flavorful.
10) Toss lightly to combine everything and remove from heat.Note – Do not over mix at this point as the onions/peppers will soften pretty soon
11) Your minty kadai paneer is ready to be served.
Serve hot with rotis or bread of choice.
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